10 Medicinal Uses for Dark Chocolate

Dark ChocolateScientific research continues to explore the therapeutic effects of eating dark chocolate. The polyphenols and theobromine found in cacao beans have a multitude of health benefits. Here are ten ways that dark chocolate can be used for disease prevention and treatment.

1. Lowering blood pressure

The polyphenols in dark chocolate can improve blood vessel function and lower high blood pressure. In a German study, 44 patients with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension were randomly assigned to receive 6.3g a day of either dark or white chocolate for 18 weeks. Researchers concluded that the inclusion of a small amount of dark chocolate in the patients’ normal diet efficiently lowered their blood pressure without causing changes in body weight. White chocolate had no effect.

2. Preventing blood clots

Doctors often prescribe aspirin to people with heart disease because it lowers the risk of blood clots in arteries that could lead to a heart attack. Research shows that the polyphenols in dark chocolate have a similar anticoagulant effect. In one study, participants were given either a cocoa drink, a caffeine beverage or water. Their blood was then tested. Blood platelet formation decreased after cocoa consumption but increased after caffeine and water consumption.

3. Calming a persistent cough

Dark chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which has been found to be more effective than codeine for treating persistent coughs. It works by suppressing vagus nerve activity to halt the cough reflex. In a clinical trial, approximately 60% of patients given 1000mg of theobromine a day experienced relief from coughing. Unsweetened dark chocolate has about 450mg of theobromine per ounce.

4. Reducing cardiovascular inflammation

Chronic inflammation of cardiovascular tissues is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Recent research has discovered how eating dark chocolate could help reduce it. Scientists tested cocoa powders in a model human digestive tract. They found that microbes in the colon such as bifidobacterium metabolize the polyphenols in dark chocolate into easily-absorbed, anti-inflammatory compounds.

5. Preventing colon cancer

The antioxidant polyphenols in dark chocolate could help protect the body against colon cancer. In a Spanish study, rats were fed a daily diet consisting of 12% cocoa. A control group was fed an ordinary diet. After eight weeks all of the rats were exposed to a toxic chemical known to induce the onset of colon cancer. Those that had been fed with cocoa had fewer pre-cancerous legions than those in the control group. They also exhibited a much higher degree of apoptosis, or normal programmed death of potentially cancerous cells.

6. Increasing insulin sensitivity

People with low insulin sensitivity require larger amounts of insulin to keep their blood sugar stable. This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. The flavanols in dark chocolate increase the uptake of glucose in response to insulin. In a small Italian study, healthy subjects were given either dark or white chocolate bars for 15 days. Oral-glucose-tolerance tests showed that insulin sensitivity significantly improved in the dark chocolate group.

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7. Lowering stress hormone levels

Chronic elevation of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol has been linked to high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and other disorders. Research has shown that polyphenols in dark chocolate lower the endocrine (hormone) response to stressful situations. In one study, men who underwent a stress test two hours after consuming 50g of dark chocolate had significantly blunted cortisol and adrenalin responses compared to a control group given white chocolate.

8. Inhibiting LDL oxidation

Oxidation of LDL cholesterol leads to the development of plaques in the arteries associated with heart disease and stroke. Flavonoids, present in dark chocolate and a variety of plants, inhibit LDL oxidation, lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. In one study, participants were assigned to either a low flavonoid diet or a diet which included dark chocolate. After four weeks, LDL was extracted from blood samples and subjected to oxidation. The chocolate diet slowed LDL oxidation rates by about 8% compared to the low flavonoid diet.

9. Preventing premature births

Pre-eclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by dangerously high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. The only way to cure it is to deliver the baby, making it a common cause of premature birth. Yale University researchers asked 2,500 women about their diet during pregnancy. Those who consumed higher amounts of chocolate were less likely to develop pre-eclampsia. This may be because theobromine in chocolate keeps blood pressure steady.

10. Slowing the progression of dementia

Flavanols in dark chocolate are thought to reduce the risk of dementia by increasing blood flow around the brain and protecting brain cells from damage. In an Italian study, 90 people over the age of 70 with mild cognitive impairments were divided into three groups and given different strength cocoa drinks to consume over eight weeks. Those whose drinks contained a higher concentration of cocoa showed the most improvement on cognitive tests.

Sources

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=207783#tab1 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/1/30.abstract?ijkey=81b06eb4f0ad8ec254f63a0b0eb8f81aba944e8d&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2245042/Chocolate-help-beat-persistent-coughs.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/26/chocolate-could-cut-bowel-cancer-risk_n_1233761.html

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/3/611.full.pdf+html

http://naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2014-11/flavonoid-rich-dark-chocolate-positively-impacts-stress-response

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011024073452.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1293098/A-regular-chocolate-treat-halve-womans-risk-giving-birth-prematurely.html

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/aug/19/should-eat-chocolate-relieve-dementia

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About Dick and Danna

Resume for Dick Vernon, PHD (Possess Highschool Diploma) I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. I am a strong conservative politically. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I make women swoon with my sensuous steel guitar playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru. Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, I repair computerized aircraft panels free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. Ihave been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me. I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On week- ends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I have given Rachel Ray and Emirile cooking lessons. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performe open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis many times when I taught him how to play guitar.. But I have not yet gone to college. ——————————————————- Resume for: Danna Vernon I put up with Dick Vernon. Doesn’t that say it all?
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